Firstfruits began with an idea: How could women’s needs to gather with other women, experience God’s love and go forth more centered on their own giftedness and purpose be met? Then the Holy Spirit stepped in and something powerful happened!
In the beginning … Firstfruits began as a vision for a women’s ministry whose purpose was to gather women to experience God’s love. And as a result, be transformed!

As word spread about this unique opportunity, other parishes became interested in hosting a Firstfruits gathering. It became apparent to the founders of Firstfruits that this “gathering” needed to be moveable. We became known as a moveable feast of spiritual opportunities for women.

View from My Chaise Lounge Chair

Last week I ended my blog suggesting that we thank God for the work and the healing He has done in us through this past year and its challenges. There was a reference to the fact that the struggles this past year were necessary to tear down the old and clear the path for the new. With our patient endurance we have been able to build new solid foundations of thinking and acting that will last.

Now is time to “move in the furniture” and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

So, I moved in my dream imaginary furniture, the comfy chaise lounge chair I’ve always wanted with the overstuffed pillows that looked so luxurious but so impractical.  Next to the chaise is a soft rug, a table, and a lamp (operated by The Clapper). A Sherpa heated blanket lays within reach. With my furniture in place I began to take inventory.

I began to make a mental list of the ways that God has been at work in my life through the challenges of the past year. The areas where there has been a transformation that feels permanent and the areas that aren’t quite there yet. Those areas in my life that I hang on to so tightly that not even a pandemic can pry them loose.

Here’s what I came up with on my chaise lounge chair.

Things God has transformed in me through this past year:

·      My capacity to live in the present.

I used to always be thinking of the next week, event, appointment, or meal! Trying to stay one step ahead of life instead of living life as it was in the moment. As a wife and mom that kind of thinking comes with the territory, but it can become more of an obsession than a necessary skill. I was always moving the bar farther out instead of relaxing in the accomplishments, or the lack thereof. This past year God showed me that some things just don’t need to get done and life is still worth living. So good.

·      My expectations of pretty much everything and everybody

The greatest lesson I learned this past year was that the true path to lasting contentment starts with having no expectations of anyone, any place, or anything. Period. Yes, we can choose to hold others accountable for inappropriate behavior, but we can’t expect anyone to act in a certain way. They will act the way they are going to act. We can’t control that. This past year we all have been dealing with stress like never before. More than ever we need to cut each other some slack. That exercise has become a habit for me and has taken me to a rare place of peace. God showed me that if I can accept things and people as they are and not want them another way, I can find peace and contentment. So good.

·      My needs list

God has transformed my idea of what I think I need. All I need other than life essentials like food, water, shelter, and hot fudge sundaes is assurance of God’s love, family, and friendship with people I can share my faith journey with. So simple.

·      My desire for Him

Something strange has happened to me in the last year. There were so many times in the quiet, darkness of 2:00am and 4:00am and … well, you get the idea … when I couldn’t sleep, that I felt such a strong desire to just be with God. I was scared, I was tired, I was confused, and saw no end in sight. Instead of trying to control these feelings and work them away, I found myself just wanting to be with God. I’m not sure how to do that, but I know the desire is the first step. He will show me the way. So good.

Things I’m still working on:

·      Total surrender

Letting go of thinking I am in control is a work in progress. Not even a pandemic can loosen my grip completely. I have moments where I am braver than others, but all in all, it’s too scary for me to let go completely. So hard.

·      Living in joy

I don’t think you can live in joy without total surrender so it makes sense that these two are together on my “to be continued” list. Finding the joy in the midst of the storm, instead of waiting until there is no storm, is a goal for me for this coming year, because this past year has taught me that sometimes the storms last a long time. So hard.

From the looks of how 2021 has started out, I think there will be more opportunities for learning and transformation. We aren’t through with the challenges by any means. But for now, it feels good to rest in our progress.

What’s the view from your chaise lounge chair?

Time to CLAP OFF!

Joan

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Joan Carey, Firstfruits executive director, is an author and speaker with a passion for helping women grow in their relationships with God. Her Ponder This book contains a series of modern day parables sure to get you thinking about and seeing our extraordinary God in our ordinary experiences. Joan invites you to use resources on this website for daily reflection in your journey to grow in God's loving care for you.
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